The Expression of Human Identity on Wari Faceneck Vessels

Author(s): Andrea Vazquez

Year: 2015


For the Wari civilization of the ancient Andes, the production and distribution of prestigious ceramics painted with religious and secular iconography likely functioned as a type of materialized ideology that contributed to the Wari agenda of imperial expansion. One particular ceramic form favored by the Wari was the faceneck vessel: a tall-necked globular vessel with a human face sculpted onto the base of the neck. These anthropomorphic vessels have been found in elite tombs and offering deposits across the greater Wari region, and careful study of these objects can offer insight into the practice of human representation in Wari society. This paper examines how human identity is expressed on faceneck vessels through differences in facial markings and hairstyles, as well as through the iconography presented on the vessel’s body. Variance in facial markings and hairstyles, paired with the vessels’ provenience, may point to regional subdivisions of Wari society. Groups of identical faceneck vessels excavated from Wari sites invite investigations into the relevance of individual versus group identity among the types of people represented on faceneck forms. A better understanding of how the Wari expressed their own identities could potentially revise how we view and define the Wari as a society.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

The Expression of Human Identity on Wari Faceneck Vessels. Andrea Vazquez. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396707)


Ceramics Identity Wari

Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;